Entertainment & Arts

Grace of Monaco slammed at Cannes Film Festival

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Media captionNicole Kidman says she does not regret her role as Grace Kelly

Early reviews of Grace of Monaco, the Grace Kelly biopic chosen to open this year's Cannes Film Festival, have slammed the film, with one describing it as "a timeless camp classic".

"It's an easy watch, lush, stylish... and is often side-splittingly funny," Empire's Damon Wise said.

"The trouble is, it's not actually meant to be a comedy."

Laughter was heard during a press screening on Wednesday morning. A gala premiere took place in the evening.

Set in the 1960s, Olivier Dahan's film focuses on Grace Kelly's early years as a princess when she was tempted to return to Hollywood by an offer from Alfred Hitchcock.

Tim Roth plays her husband, Prince Rainier III, with Robert Lindsay, Spain's Paz Vega and Sir Derek Jacobi filling other roles.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Tim Roth stars as Prince Rainier III in the film

In her review, Screen Daily's Fionnuala Halligan described the film as "puzzlingly misjudged... a minor royal Euro-pudding which lands awkwardly in sub-Roman Holiday territory".

"As Grace Kelly, the retired Hollywood movie star struggling to find meaning in her life as Monaco's monarch, Kidman valiantly strains for the right notes.

"But the project... seems a poor judgment call, despite the presence of La Vie en Rose's Dahan at the helm."

Those sentiments were echoed by the Hollywood Reporter's Stephen Dalton, who called the film "a stiff, stagey, thuddingly earnest affair which has generated far more drama off screen than on".

"Is it even possible to make a boring film out of this rich, juicy, gossipy material? It would seem so," he said.

"Indeed, it is almost perversely impressive how Dahan misses almost every target and squanders almost every opportunity."

The film has been criticised by the royal family of Monaco, with Princess Stephanie of Monaco calling the film about her parents inaccurate.

At a press conference for the film on Wednesday, Kidman addressed the royal family's displeasure at the project.

"Obviously I feel sad because the film has no malice towards the family, particularly Grace and Rainier," she told reporters.

"I have respect [for how they feel] and I want them to know the performance was done with love.

"If they did see the film, they'd see there was an enormous amount of affection for both their parents."

Kidman, who was a juror at last year's festival and who also attended the event in 2012, said it was "amazing" to be in Cannes for the third consecutive year.

Grace of Monaco is playing out of competition at this year's festival, though she joked she would give it the Palme d'Or - Cannes' highest accolade - were she still to have a say in the matter.

"I'm always looking for things that put me on a high wire, and this was one of those roles," the 46-year-old continued.

"She [Grace Kelly] fascinated me, and she fascinated the world. She still does."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Director Dahan has dismissed reports of a rift with producer Harvey Weinstein

According to reports, Dahan also clashed over the final cut with the Weinstein Co, which is distributing the film in North America.

But the director played down suggestions that a rift existed between himself and producer Harvey Weinstein, saying there was "no longer any dispute".

"There's only one version of the film [and] Harvey will use that version," he said.

"If some changes have to be made, we will do it together."

The director admitted some scenes depicted in the film did not occur in real life, among them a visit to Monaco by Alfred Hitchcock.

"I twisted reality a little bit," he conceded. "I'm not a biographer or a historian. What I've tried to do is depict the heart of things."

"Hitchcock didn't go to Monaco himself, but he did offer [Kelly a role in] Marnie and she did want to do it," said Kidman.

According to the film, Kelly was sorely tempted to return to Hollywood but ultimately chose to do her duty and remain with her husband.

"I've never had to [give up acting for love] but I wouldn't think twice about it," said the actress, who described her own husband - US singer Keith Urban - as "a country prince".

"Love is the core emotion. Without that, it's a very empty life."

There are 18 films in competition for the top prize, the Palme d'Or, which will be handed out along with other prizes on 24 May.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Workers prepare the red carpet prior to the start of the 67th film festival
Image copyright Getty Images/AFP
Image caption Both Mike Leigh and Ken Loach have been regular Cannes contenders over the years

British hopes for the prize are led by directors Ken Loach and Mike Leigh.

Leigh's Mr Turner stars his regular collaborator Timothy Spall as the artist JMW Turner, while Loach's Jimmy's Hall dramatises the deportation of a 1930s Irish activist.

Loach has become a regular at France's historic film festival over the years, having previously been shortlisted for the Palme d'Or on 11 occasions.

David Cronenberg, Tommy Lee Jones, The Artist director Michel Hazanavicius and 83-year-old Jean-Luc Godard are also among those in contention.

Image copyright Film company
Image caption Timothy Spall plays English painter JMW Turner in Mike Leigh's biopic

Animated sequel How to Train Your Dragon 2 will screen out of competition.

This year's Un Certain Regard section of the competition will feature the directorial debut of Hollywood star Ryan Gosling.

Mad Men's Christina Hendricks and former Doctor Who star Matt Smith are among the cast of Lost River, a dark fantasy formerly known as How to Catch a Monster.

This year's line-up features two appearances from Robert Pattinson, who plays the lead role in Cronenberg's Hollywood satire Maps to the Stars.

The Twilight actor also appears in The Rover, an Australian crime drama that will have a special midnight screening at this year's event.

New Zealand's Jane Campion, whose film The Piano was named joint winner of the Palme d'Or in 1993, will head this year's main competition jury.

It has been announced the festival will close with a 50th anniversary screening of a restored print of Sergio Leone's 1964 spaghetti western A Fistful of Dollars, hosted by director Quentin Tarantino.

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